CAK’s height, shooting too much for PF

Feb. 23, 2013 @ 10:51 PM

The Pigeon Forge Lady Tigers’ season came to an end Friday night in the first round of the Region 2-AA tournament with a 53-37 loss to the District 4-AA champion Christian Academy of Knoxville Lady Warriors.

Coach Paul Reagan’s girls in orange and black gave a great effort, but, in the end, couldn’t overcome missing two starters and CAK’s incredible height advantage.

“It’s hard to guard height,” Reagan said. “We had to modify our gameplan a little bit. We modified it because of their height and because of missing two starters (injured guards Rebecca Baker and Courtney Leatherwood). (And) I couldn’t be more proud of the girls. They did execute the gameplan, and did what they’re supposed to do. We turned it over a few too many times, and missed some shots, but give CAK credit. They’re a heck of a team.”

The Lady Warriors start 6-foot-6 sophomore Cheyenne Hooper and 6-foot-2 sophomore Kelsey Nailer to go along with all-state sophomore shooter Anna Hammaker. 

“You go into a game like this and you don’t want Hammaker to beat you, you don’t want Hooper to beat you,” Reagan said. “And Nailer, the other girl is a great player, so their next option is (Kaycee) Heitzman.”

And there laid the rub.

CAK got a 25-point night from the junior forward, who was shooting the lights out all night.

“She knocked down (25 points),” Reagan said. “That girl can flat out shoot.

“(But) you don’t let Hammaker beat you, and you don’t let Hooper beat you. That’s what you want. But we just needed to step up and make shots at the other end.”

Pigeon Forge started the game slowly and trailed 15-9 at the end of the first quarter.  But the Lady Tigers battled back early in the second quarter, keyed by a pair of Mindy Brackins jumpers, to knot the game at 15-15.

CAK scored eight-straight, however, and, after an Alyssa Mitchell 3-pointer, led the Lady Tigers 23-18 at half.

In the opening moments of the second half, Reagan’s troops tried to rally and used an aggressive defense to get back within two at 23-21. Then the Lady Warriors hit their stride. Between Heitzman and Hammaker — who finished with 16 — the Lady Warriors built an 11-point lead by the end of the frame. Pigeon Forge, in the meantime, had great difficulty getting any good looks offensively, as Hooper’s huge reach limited any opportunities down low and forced the Lady Tigers to attempt low percentage shots from the perimeter. By the early-going of the fourth quarter, the lead had grown to 15 points.

Mikayla Trombley led Pigeon Forge with 11 points, senior Mindy Brackins had 10 and Alyssa Mitchell added nine.

“They couldn’t have played any harder tonight,” Reagan said of his team. “If you can go in after the game and look at yourself in the (mirror), and say you gave it everything you’ve got, you should be proud. And there’s nobody that can say they didn’t play hard.”